BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), having returned home earlier this year from a historic deployment to the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, has received one of the most prestigious awards bestowed upon a Navy vessel -- the Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E."
Carl Vinson and her crew competed for the title of the most combat-efficient aircraft carrier in the Pacific fleet with four other aircraft carriers: USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), USS Constellation (CV 64), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
Last year, Carl Vinson successfully completed qualifications for her ninth Western Pacific Deployment (WESTPAC) in record time; departed for what appeared to be a routine WESTPAC to the Arabian Gulf and finally, after the tragic events of Sept. 11, led the attacks on al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
In recognition for accomplishments, as well as for superior performance before, during and after Operation Enduring Freedom, Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet selected USS Carl Vinson as the 2001 recipient of the Battle "E" award.
To be competitive for the award, a ship must undergo a rigorous cycle of inspections and exercises. The competition is designed to measure a carrier's readiness for combat.
"Most battle-ready carriers are graded on missile-shoot performances, hours flown, number of sorties and its safety record," said Cmdr. Michael Manazir, Carl Vinson's executive officer. "Each department also has a specific set of requirements they must meet."
Carl Vinson excelled in almost every category, setting a standard unparalleled by any other ship. The medical department alone was deemed "the best in the fleet" for material condition and received an "outstanding" rating in clinical care, pharmaceutical care and medical logistics. But it wasn't just the medical department that excelled. The ship's entire crew proved to be the very best.
"In order for us to achieve excellence, we must have total commitment from the crew," said Manazir. "We demonstrated our ability to conduct warfare in Operation Enduring Freedom; I am extremely proud to be a member of the crew that had that type of performance."
Although Carl Vinson seemed to be at the right place at the right time for America's initial efforts in the war against terrorism, Sailors attribute their success to the training they received prior to Enduring Freedom.
"We were well-trained," said Lt. Doug Stephens, Medical Service Corps, of the medical department. "But it was business as usual for Carl Vinson."
Now, as Carl Vinson and the crew commence their six-month maintenance availability, the Navy can look forward to the same type of commitment to excellence as they begin preparing for the next deployment cycle.
While in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington, the ship will fly a red triangular pennant with a black circle, showing the world that Carl Vinson was the Pacific Fleet's most combat-ready aircraft carrier in 2001.
For more information on USS Carl Vinson, go to http://www.cvn70.navy.mil.